The Juneau-Douglas girls soccer team didn't have much to show for its road trip last weekend to Anchorage, just three losses and no goals scored.
So, as the Crimson Bears launch another road trip with games at Colony High School in Palmer tonight, the players are looking for much different results.
Both the Juneau varsity girls and boys teams play Colony tonight at 7 p.m. (with JV boys and girls games at 5 p.m. on adjoining fields). On Friday it's on to Wasilla, where the varsity girls play at 3 p.m. and the varsity boys at 5 p.m. (with JV boys at 3 p.m. and JV girls at 5 p.m. on a second field). The Crimson Bears play Service at the Anchorage Football Stadium turf on Saturday, with varsity girls at 10 a.m., JV girls at noon, varsity boys at 2 p.m. and JV boys at 4 p.m.
``We're going to do better,'' said Juneau's Ella Magallanes, who took four stitches near her left eye during a 3-0 loss to Chugiak last Thursday (the Juneau girls also lost 2-0 to East Anchorage on Friday and 1-0 to Dimond on Saturday). ``Our first two games we didn't really put it together.''
``We were horrible last weekend,'' Juneau senior Nobu Koch said. ``We weren't ready to play together as a team. We're passing a lot better this week.''
During Wednesday night's practice at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, the Juneau girls spent most of their time working on ball movement. They tried
to not only make one good pass, but also combinations of good passes that could help move the ball up the field without a loss of possession. They also spent some time working on their defense of corner kicks, which proved to be a particular problem during an early-season 3-2 loss and 2-2 tie against Colony as four of the five goals scored by the Knights came on that type of play.
Juneau girls coach Sandi Wagner said she's looking for better results this weekend, although she figures the rematches with both Colony and Wasilla will be much different ball games. Juneau beat Wasilla 4-0 and 5-0 on April 28-29. Juneau was 6-1-1 heading into last weekend, so the Crimson Bears (now 6-4-1) were shocked by their sudden three-game losing streak.
``We had offensive problems all weekend,'' Wagner said. ``We didn't score all weekend, but there were other problems. But those all come down to working together as a team. These guys have surprised me in every game all season, in one way or another. I expect I'll be surprised again, I just hope it's a good surprise.''
The Colony girls are 9-1-1 after suffering their first loss of the season on Monday, when Colony ended up using most of its JV players in a loss to Bartlett's varsity after many players were forced to miss a game for missing a school day. Wasilla is 6-4-1 this year, while Service is 8-1-1 with its only loss coming to Colony (the tie was to Dimond, plus Service plays Bartlett today before playing Juneau).
Last year, Service claimed the title in the tournament formerly known as the state invitational with a double-overtime shootout victory over Juneau in the championship game. Service has two unbeaten streaks of more than 80 games each over the last decade, both among the longest in the nation, but it will be a different Cougars team this season. Service has a new coach in Mark Cascolan, and a loss to Colony, but the Cougars are still the team most Alaska squads use as a measuring stick.
``We saw Service play last weekend,'' Juneau's Liza Slotnick said. ``They're young, but they're good. And their new coach has been one of the ODP (Olympic Development Program) coaches.''
The Juneau boys (6-3-2 this season) also struggled last weekend, posting an 0-2-1 record that featured a 4-4 tie against Chugiak, a 3-2 loss to East and a 3-1 loss to undefeated Dimond. Juneau was missing starting goalkeeper Zuriel `Z' Ebron to illness last weekend.
This weekend Juneau faces a Colony team that is 7-2-0 (including a forfeit loss to Wasilla on Monday because of Senior Fun Day problems), a Wasilla team that is 4-6-2 and a Service team that is 5-2-3 before playing winless Bartlett today. Wasilla is the only team this weekend Juneau's boys have already played, having claimed 3-0 and 4-0 victories on April 27 and April 29.
Juneau coach Gary Lehnhart said he wants the Crimson Bears to fare better this weekend, but his goals are further along the road. He said he experimented with his lineups last weekend, trying to see what his best combinations were so the Crimson Bears will be prepared for the state tournament May 25-27 at Skyview High School in Soldotna.
``These six games (the two road trips) are about preparing,'' Lehnhart said on Saturday. ``What we learned this weekend was we need to be better defensively. We're scoring, but we can't give up two or three goals in every game. I've been experimenting a bit, moving people around. I feel positive about it. We were competitive. We just need some fine-tuning.''